In the run up to Valentine's Day, it's hard not to scrutinse your own love life (or lack thereof). If you're looking for romance, but finding it hard to meet people, then online dating might be for you. Putting yourself out there can be daunting, but one in five relationships in the UK now begin this way. If you need some help getting started, check out our online dating tips from Gransnetters who’ve found romance on the web, and have a look at our research on the best online dating sites for over 50s in the UK.
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"My husband is 10 years younger than me and we met online. I think online dating is becoming increasingly common as stereotypes fade."
The stigma around online dating, particularly for older people, is a thing of the past. Thanks in large part to the huge number of sites dedicated to finding love later in life, it's more common than ever to meet a potential partner online. If you're newly single, divorced or widowed, the idea of meeting someone on a dating website might be daunting so it's a good idea to know how to approach it.
"You would need to find a dating site that you feel confident with and investigate their safeguards against the unscrupulous, including scams."
To figure out which dating site is best for you, take some time to browse a few and get a feel for how they work, what age groups they tend to attract and what they offer. While some popular dating sites attract a variety of ages, or have specific sections for different age groups, there are also sites that cater specifically to over 50s.
It's also very important that you trust the site you intend to use, so it's good to do some research beforehand. Getting recommendations from friends and family is a great way to start your search.
"Shop around and look for a site that fits your needs."
Different dating sites offer different experiences, such as long-term relationships, romance, friendship or just some companionship. Considering what you’re looking for can help you narrow down the sites on offer and find the right one for you.
It also helps to know what type of person you’re looking for and how much time you're willing to invest, as some sites offer a basic dating profile and leave you to do the choosing, whereas others have comprehensive personality tests and algorithms which pair you with potential matches.
"It can pay to pay. Anyone can join most dating sites for free, but if someone takes the time and trouble to pay for a better service it may be an indicator that they are serious about what they want."
There are lots of free dating sites that won't initially charge you to join but if you want to contact people you like, you'll usually need to purchase a subscription. Once you have created your profile, the website will lay out their subscription rates on-site for you to assess before subscribing. Many gransnetters are under the impression that it pays to pay, but that’s for you to decide.
"Consider making new friends via the internet. There are many lonely people out there. You have so much to give so live your life to the full."
If you take these steps into consideration, you should be able to whittle down your list so that you're left with only the most suitable sites. If you still can't decide, 'trial and error' seems to be a popular motto among gransnetters. So, which sites are the best for over 50s?
Dating apps are in full swing these days, with an estimated 59 million people using them worldwide. As our lives become busier and more hectic, it can be tricky to find time to set aside to go on dates, or to even find people to go on dates with. Dating apps come in to help, by allowing you to get chatting to people more easily.
Lumen is an app-only dating service so you'll need to download it to your phone or tablet to join up. It's dedicated solely to the over-50s and has a zero-tolerance policy for ageism. They have a minimum character length on messages effectively forcing users to engage in quality conversation rather than small-talk. And, for added reassurance they verify all profiles using photo-referencing. You can send three messages a day on the free version of the app but there are also paid options, the most obvious of which is to upgrade to Lumen Premium.
Age range: The average age of users on Lumen is 56.
What you need to know: Lumen is free to use but there are lots of paid options available to you, so make sure you're clear on which is right for you before you subscribe.
Find Companionship helps you to make connections in your local area, whether for companionship or love. It's completely free to join, and you will be able to create a profile and start messaging immediately. However, if you would like to reply to messages, you will need to upgrade your account. As a premium member, you will additionally be able to show more aspects of your personality and have access to a personal dating diary.
Age range: Suitable for a variety of ages, but predominantly for over 50s.
This dating site finds friendship and romance for over 50s, using a unique two-way matching system to help find the perfect match for you. It's free to create a profile and have a browse, but, when you want to get the ball rolling with your first message, will need to buy a subscription.
Age range: Exclusively for those over the age of 50.
"I met the love of my life through Guardian Soulmates. It was unlike me to have been so bold, but I am always glad I did."
Guardian Soulmates has helped thousands of users find companionship, and continues to do so with their easy-to-use and successful dating site. It's free to join, and you can immediately start browsing users. However, when you feel ready to to send your first message, you will need to sign up for a premium account.
Age range: Most members are between the ages of 25 and 55.
Top tip: If you don't want your profile to appear on the Guardian website, make sure to tick 'opt-out' when signing up.
"I met my second husband on Match when I was 55, having been divorced for almost 20 years. I was lucky as my husband was only the third man I met in person from the dating site."
As one of the pioneers of online dating, Match is a service which has helped users find love around the globe and they've recently launched a dating site tailored specifically to over 50s. They offer a detailed dating profile, as well as the opportunity to play online games with other users and attend exciting singles events. It's free to create an account, but to send and receive messages you will need to become a paying subscriber. With some memberships you gain additional features such as being able to send more messages and receiving event discounts.
Age range: Our Time is specifically for over 50s but it's parent site Match has a broad range of ages.
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The ethos of eHarmony is that the basis of a good relationship is compatibility. It is highly rated and ideal for those who want a serious relationship. When signing up, you will be asked to complete a lengthy questionnaire, which they claim will determine a user's personality and work to help match them with their ideal date. However, if you're looking to sign up without a fuss, this isn't for you. It's subscribe only, with standard and premium memberships on offer. Premium offers additional features such as being a featured match for 24 hours every month.
Age range: Not restrictive, but the site has sections specifically for those over 50.
Ideal for those who wish to find romance or friendship. The brainchild of The Telegraph newspaper, this dating site aims to match users with like-minded individuals. Again, free to create a profile, but when it's time to get chatting you will need to subscribe.
You can also opt for a premium membership which is an extra £10 per month. With this, everyone you message can reply for free.
Age range: Mostly over 40s.
A unique site that allows children to recommend their single parents (usually over 50) for dates. It was set up by Matt Connolly whose mother, then in her 60s, encouraged him to help her find a partner.
Price: Free to join, but you must purchase either a 1, 3 or 6 month subscription starting at £12.99 in order to send and receive messages.
Age range: Mainly used by single parents over 50.
What you need to know: Your profile will be set up by someone else, i.e. your son or daughter, but you'll receive a message letting you know that this has been done. You can also opt to delete your profile at any time if the site isn't for you.
"On a whim I joined Yours Dating and have met a caring, affectionate and understanding person. We have known each other for six months and it's working out really well. On paper our interests are very different so don't dismiss anyone because of this. It's a good idea to meet for coffee first."
This site aims to match those who find themselves single in later life. The Yours Dating team have also created Yours Dating After Loss for individuals who have lost a partner or spouse. Both are free to join and browse members on, but if you decide you want to send someone a message you will need to purchase a subscription.
Age range: Specifically for those in later life.
A spin-off of the popular Elite Singles, this version targets mature daters over the age of 50 and operates in 20 countries worldwide. The focus is very much on long-term commitment rather than casual dating so if you're looking for something serious, this could be worth a try. The site also contains lots of helpful articles on how to approach dating at this stage in your life.
Age range: Specifically for over 50s.
What you need to know: Elite Singles boasts of it's highly-educated membership base - 85% of members hold an above average education.